Open for business: Timmins repositions tourism interests, wins award.

Author:Kelly, Lindsay

When two of your major tourism attractions fold in one fell swoop, most communities would be left reeling, scrambling to fill the gap. If you're the City of Timmins, however, you get right back in the game, revamping your entire tourism portfolio, and winning an award in the process.

Last January, Timmins lost the Shania Twain Centre and the Underground Gold Mine Tour when Porcupine Gold Mines (Goldcorp) purchased the property for $5 million so it could go forward with its Hollinger open pit project.

The move effectively shuttered two of Timmins' most well-known, albeit money-losing, tourism ventures, but the city didn't skip a beat. Instead it went into recovery mode, forging a multi-year master plan encompassing its mandate for tourism. culture and recreation opportunities in the city.

Mayor Tom Laughren said it's part of the city's Timmins 2020 strategic plan, which examines how to use strategies, branding, and marketing to reposition the city.

"Even though we know resources are always going to be our stable, we know we need to do more," Laughren said.

For its efforts, the city was recognized by Tourism Northern Ontario with the inaugural President's Award for its resilience and dedication in rebuilding and redeveloping its tourism industry.

A shocked Guy Lamarche said he was surprised, but grateful, to be recognized by his industry peers during a November meeting and gala in Sudbury.

"The last couple of years have been challenging for Tourism Timmins," said Lamarche, manager of tourism, events and communications at the City of Timmins, on receiving the news. "With the sale and closure of the Shania Twain Centre and Timmins Underground Mine Tour, we had to reinvent and reposition ourselves in the marketplace."

Expected some time early in the new year, the multi-year plan puts a focus on two priority areas: meetings. conventions and sports tourism, as well as festival events and special projects; the city is hiring two full-time staff to oversee the new priorities.

Tourisjn Timmins will also take over responstilities formerly overseen by the Chamber of Commerce. including the operation of the tourism information centre and the management of industrial tours. Tourism Timmins will relocate from city hall to the visitor information centre, and will work on rebranding the facility as the Timmins Convention Bureau and Visitor Welcome Centre.

Over the last few years, three new hotels have been built in Timmins and a fourth, a Best Western, is...

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